It was anything but easy, yet No. 6/6 UCLA avoided a major upset.
UCLA rallied from a one-game deficit and trailed by as many as three points early in the decisive fifth game before beating Concordia-Irvine 25-22, 23-25, 23-25, 25-16, 15-9 on Saturday at the John Wooden Center.
All-American outside attacker Jake Arnitz in the victory had a match-high 17 kills on a .464 attack percentage. In addition, outside attacker Dylan Missry added 14 kills and had three of the team’s seven aces against Concordia-Irvine (16-9).
Hagen Smith starting in place of injured All-American setter Micah Ma’a had a season-high 58 assists and guided UCLA’s 5-1 offense to out-hit Concordia-Irvine .349 to .175. The Bruins also held the Eagles to a match-low negative-.158 attack percentage in the fifth game.
Both Smith and Arnitz also contributed a match-high six blocks as UCLA (15-7, 8-6 MPSF) finished with 16.5 blocks — six more than Concordia-Irvine.
Opposite Ryan Anselmo led Concordia-Irvine with 14 kills, while outside attacker Joseph Pillon added 11 kills.
The Eagles, a Division II independent team that will join the MPSF next season, were attempting to pull off their second upset of a nationally ranked team this week. Concordia-Irvine beat No. 15 UC Santa Barbara on Wednesday for its first win this season versus a MPSF opponent.
Check out the video highlights of the match filmed by Off the Block special contributor Jonathan Bates.